Signs & Symptoms of PTSD

Bayside Marin is a premier rehabilitation center dedicated to the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in California. Bayside Marin blends evidence-based treatments with alternative, holistic modalities to comprehensively treat all aspects of our client’s life.

Understanding PTSD

Learn about posttraumatic stress disorder

In order to be diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder, an individual has to have experienced, witnessed, or learned about a trauma prior to the onset of symptoms. If a person is truly battling this serious mental illness, the trauma must have occurred in the past, yet the distressing symptoms that disrupt an individual’s healthy functioning are occurring in the present. Those battling this disorder, which is also referred to as PTSD, experience a wide range of symptoms that can prevent the completion of even the most mundane of daily tasks. The re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms that are cornerstone to PTSD can ultimately cause a person to experience discord, strife, and several overwhelming emotions every day.

Delaying treatment for this condition can cause the already troubling symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder to become worse and lead to the onset of further devastation and turmoil. Sufferers of PTSD often turn to unhealthy methods of coping, such as self-harm or substance abuse, in order to manage the monumental stress that is known to impact these individuals. Because of the detriments that can ensue when a person does not seek care to heal from this mental health condition, seeking treatment is of the utmost importance when these symptoms are present following a trauma. Fortunately, there are several PTSD treatment options that exist that are proven effective in helping sufferers heal, recover, reclaim their lives, and realize an existence that is not governed by this shattering mental health disorder.


PTSD statistics

A staggering number of people grapple with the distressing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. With more women battling this condition than men, it is estimated that nearly five million Americans meet diagnostic criteria for this devastating mental illness. And while this number may seem gargantuan, many professionals in the field of mental health, as well as trauma experts, believe that this number is actually greater and is underreported as many people do not seek the treatment they need in order to heal from posttraumatic stress disorder.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder

While a trauma must occur prior to the onset of PTSD symptoms in order for a person to receive this diagnosis, there are several contributing factors that can make an individual more susceptible than others to battling this form of mental illness after experiencing, witnessing, or learning about a trauma. Consider the following explanations for why and how some people are more vulnerable to suffering from this disorder:

Genetic: Researchers believe that a person can be vulnerable to the onset of PTSD symptoms after enduring a form of trauma if that individual has a family history of certain mental health conditions. More specifically, if a person has a first-degree relative who has battled an anxiety disorder, there is an increased risk for that same individual to experience PTSD symptoms after witnessing, learning about, or experiencing a trauma.

Environmental: Since an environmental trauma or traumas precipitate the onset of PTSD, external influences and circumstances impact whether or not a person will come to struggle with this mental health condition. Especially if a person possesses a genetic predisposition to certain anxiety disorders, environmental influences can ultimately affect certain individuals more than others. Furthermore, if an individual does not have appropriate skills for coping with distress, there is an increased likelihood that that person will also experience symptoms synonymous with posttraumatic stress disorder following a trauma.

Risk Factors:

  • Having an inadequate support system
  • Lack of appropriate and healthy coping skills
  • Exposure to trauma, abuse, neglect, and/or violence
  • Experiencing chronic stress
  • Family history of anxiety disorders
  • Being female
  • Preexisting anxiety disorder or other mental health illness

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of PTSD

Depending on the type of trauma that an individual has witnessed, learned about, or experienced, the symptoms present in that individual’s life, along with their severity, can vary. The following symptoms are those that indicate that an individual may be struggling with PTSD and should heed as indicators that he or she is in need of professional help:

Re-experiencing symptoms:

  • Intrusive nightmares
  • Flashbacks that make an individual feel as if the trauma is occurring again
  • Intrusive memories related to the trauma
  • Sweating, having a hard time breathing, or experiencing an increased heart rate when reminded of the trauma

Avoidance symptoms:

  • Blocked memories regarding the trauma
  • Avoiding people, places, or situations that are reminiscent of the trauma
  • Feeling detached from one’s self or the world around him or her
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Declined interest in things or activities that were once enjoyable

Hyperarousal symptoms:

  • Having an exaggerated startle response
  • Poor concentration
  • Inability to sleep
  • Ongoing concerns about impending danger
  • Feeling on edge
  • Experiencing angry and emotional outbursts


Effects of posttraumatic stress disorder

If left untreated, the presence of PTSD symptoms can begin to impact more than just the mental health of the person grappling with this disorder. Seeking treatment, however, can reduce the risk for the following detriments to occur and allow an individual to resume life without the hindrances that are known to arise when PTSD is impacting a person’s life:

  • Family discord
  • Decline in quality and quantity of meaningful relationships
  • Chronic pain
  • Development of a substance abuse problem
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Loss of employment
  • Social isolation
  • Impaired occupational performance
  • Development of another mental health condition
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Suicide attempts

Co-Occurring Disorders

PTSD and co-occurring disorders

When a person is suffering from the debilitating symptoms of PTSD, it is not uncommon for the sufferer of this disorder to also be affected by the presence of another mental health condition. Below are some of the other mental illnesses that can be diagnosed at the same time as posttraumatic stress disorder:

  • Specific phobias
  • Depressive disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Substance use disorders
  • Social anxiety disorder

Bayside is the best of its kind. Nowhere else helped me with my PTSD like they did.

– Anonymous Client
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